new mum

Should You See a Lactation Consultant?

By: Morgan Annandale 

Whether you are in your third trimester, have a newborn, or have a six-month-old baby…do you know when it is time to ask for help with your breastfeeding plan and reach out to a professional?

In my experience, I waited way too long to ask for help. I definitely could have received advice from a certified lactation consultant during prenatal care, and avoided uncomfortable and unnecessary issues while nursing my son. I did not have the slightest clue that lactation consultants were utilised during prenatal care. Looking back, its seems obvious that as with every other plan a pregnant woman makes, that a breastfeeding plan should be one of them. However, I just figured “it would happen naturally” and that “my body and baby will know what to do.” YEAH RIGHT!

Photo by  Dave Clubb  on  Unsplash

Photo by Dave Clubb on Unsplash

My mum did not breastfeed me, nor did my grandmother breastfeed my mother. There was an even more negative stigma regarding breastfeeding back in their days than there is now. They told me that formula was simply the norm when it came to feeding your baby. I believe because of this, many new mums are surprised when they realise breastfeeding can be extremely challenging and nothing like you imagined.

I ran into numerous problems while breastfeeding my son for the beginning of his life. It took me six agonizing weeks to finally reach out to a certified lactation consultant for help. Six weeks of battling infected milk ducts, not enough milk being produced at times, and of course, the wretched bottle refusal issue (the top baby bottles were deemed beneath my son, who only wanted the real deal 100% of the time). I was desperate for someone to tell me what in the world was going on with both myself and my baby. So, I made the appointment to see a lactation consultant that was certified by the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). 

 

Prenatal is NOT too early

When speaking to my lactation consultant (LC), I quickly realised that meeting with a LC is not uncommon to do during prenatal care. She told me it does not happen as often as she would like to see, but that many issues and challenges of breastfeeding can be avoided if expecting mothers looking to breastfeed meet with a LC prior to giving birth.

According to a lactation consultant in Santa Barbara, there are also many risk factors a mother may have that would signal to meet with a lactation consultant during the prenatal period.

Some of those risk factors include:

  • Experiencing a high-risk pregnancy
  • Having difficulty conceiving and needing IVF or medications to conceive
  • Being a first-time mother over the age of 35
  • Having multiples
  • Having inverted or flat nipples
  • Having had a breast surgery or procedure such as any cosmetic breast surgery, lumpectomy, mastectomy or radiation treatment to the breast, or a chest surgery or injury
  • Having experienced breastfeeding difficulties with another child
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Diabetes, type I, type II, or gestational
  • Having very large or very small breasts
  • Having the first menstrual period at age 10 or younger
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Experiencing postpartum hemorrhage
  • Having a baby born early, particularly if born before 38 weeks gestation
  • Having a difficult birth such as an induction, a birth where high doses of pitocin were needed, or a cesarean section

This LC goes on to describe how some of her clients created a breastfeeding plan to include with their birthing plan and how she would receive permission to send her client’s breastfeeding history and goals to her OB and nurses. This created a birthing environment where all of the staff and the mother were prepared to start the nursing experience off to the best start possible. She mentions that the mother said the staff fully supported her and it made for a much more positive and motivating birthing and first nursing experience.

  

Where to Find Help to Fit Your Needs

If you decide to go for prenatal care, or once you have reached a point postnatal where you know it’s time to reach out for help, it’s important to look in the right places. The best place to search for a LC in your area is by using the IBCLC directory. 

This helpful directory lets you search to find a certified LC in your area, so you know you are getting the best help available. A certified LC has to go through strenuous training hours and exams to be able to have IBCLC after their name, so they are the best of the best! Not only does this directory let you search by post code, you can also search by LC’s that perform home visits, work with the Government/military, work in community/public health/WIC, volunteer their support, or have a private practice.

It is also a good idea to contact your health insurance and see if consultations with your LC will be covered under your insurance. It is not always covered, but it is definitely worth reaching out to find out if yours does cover it.

  

Don’t Wait…It’s Not Worth It!

Overall, I learned as soon as I decided to reach out for help, that I had already waited too long. I do not know why I pushed myself so hard to accomplish such a challenging task on my own. Breastfeeding does not need to be a period full of frustration, pain, and struggles that a mum goes through alone. Lactation consultants can provide tools to help you overcome obstacles you did not think possible when it comes to feeding your baby. I truly thought I was going to stop breastfeeding if I could ever find a bottle that my son would take, but with the help from my consultant and finding a bottle like mimijumi, that allowed me to easily interchangeably feed, I was able to continue on for many more months!

*If you have any concerns regarding feeding please reach out to a certified LC or your doctor immediately.

Should I Stay or Should I Go…Back to Work?

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By: Morgan Annandale

When I was about halfway through my six-week maternity leave with my son, Luke, I debated this question with my husband, my family, my friends, and myself almost daily. I felt like I was only just learning how to take care of my baby and still had so much to learn. It truly did not seem possible to return back to work in only three short weeks. 

My entire pregnancy I announced to the world, “I am definitely not staying home.” I told my friends how I “needed” to work. Not only for the money, but also for the sanity, that I just could never imagine being home alone with a baby all day (practically rolling my eyes at myself at this point). Then all of a sudden, everything changed. I found myself holding my little baby boy in my arms and thinking, I could never leave this little guy all day long.

Budget, what budget? 

So, my husband and I sat down one day and had the dreaded budgeting discussion – can we live comfortably on one salary? Personally, I have never been a good budgeter; I enjoy Amazon Prime and Starbucks way too much to budget efficiently. My husband, on the other hand, is a budget master and reigns me in the majority of the time (opposites attract and all), so you can imagine this conversation made me feel pretty nervous. My husband was surprised when I brought up the discussion. He was always under the impression that I was going to go back to work and we were going to choose daycare when my maternity leave was up. Thankfully, my husband knew when he married me that I was very indecisive, so he was open to re-thinking our original plan.

Once we pulled out the good ‘ole excel budgeting sheet he had attempted to get me to use when we first moved in together, we discovered that we could live comfortably on a single income (as long as I was willing to reduce my weekly Starbucks trips, of course). There was something about the possibility becoming a reality that made this decision even scarier for me. Now that I knew we could really do this and my husband was okay with it, I was struggling more with what to do. How in the world was I going to decide on this?

This is where I turned to Google to read hundreds of blogs, HOPING they would tell me what to do. Of course, like in any big personal decision, there was a ton of advice on the Internet, but nothing that could answer this question for me personally. However, I did find some information that helped me come to my final decision.

One reassuring tip I was reminded of was that if I did not choose to go back to work, it did not have to be the end-all-be-all decision. If for some reason I couldn’t handle being at home, I could always return back to work and vice versa! I’m not saying un-doing my decision would be any less of a challenge or risk, but it would not be impossible. Once I was reminded of this, I started to feel a little more comfortable with figuring out this situation, a familiar journey for many new moms. 

The Decision…

After about a solid week, I felt confident enough to tell my boss about my updated decision on what I was doing when my maternity leave was up. I scheduled a sit down meeting with my boss and submitted to her a written proposal for me to work part-time on specific projects and to give away other projects to other full time team members. The proposal went on to say that it could be re-evaluated and that I could return full-time when I was ready. My boss was hesitant at first, but with a tangible document and offer for her to consider, it made a huge difference. I am not sure if this would have gone over in the same manner if I had been informal on this request and not prepared for a meeting concerning my future at the company. The more formal process forced my boss to take me, and my proposal, seriously and not overlook my request. We were able to negotiate a schedule that worked for us both and I have continued to happily work part-time. It's of course it's still challenging, but for me I chose a work/baby balance that I feel is the best decision for our family.

I know that not all you moms have this opportunity in your careers, but I think its ALWAYS worth the ask. If you put a reasonable offer in front of your boss/supervisor, you never know how they could react. It could be something they will run with, and both of you could be happier in the end. I know for me, I was able to put a stronger focus on my work while I was at work. I made a big effort to have a healthy work/life balance. To keep my brain on work, and only work, while in the office, and vice versa at home. My team understood from the beginning of this endeavor that I would not answer emails or calls once I left the office, and even better (after testing me a few times) they respected it. I believe this is in part due to me providing clear boundaries and setting their expectations- then sticking to them.  

At the end of the day, there is no one that can help a mom make this decision other than her, if it is a choice to be made at all. Whether you stay at home, go back to work full-time, or figure out a brand new career path where you work for yourself from home, whatever makes you and your baby happy and healthy is the right choice.